Caroline's blog post written for Erika's Lighthouse
Yoga is more than an opportunity to wear a cute pair of Lululemon pants! It teaches us valuable skills for a well-balanced and healthy life.
Yoga and meditation are empirically proven to improve mood, decrease stress and facilitate a new way of thinking. Anyone who has taken a few yoga classes likely knows that yoga makes them feel good. But, why?
Well, for starters...
1. Yoga causes chemical changes in the brain.
The practice of yoga reduces stress chemicals (cortisol) and increases “feel good” chemicals in the brain such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA. These are the very neurotransmitters that antidepressant medications are working with in your brain!
These chemical changes are undoubtedly beneficial, but you might be thinking you could get these results from any type of exercise...and you’re right. However, what makes yoga unique is that it helps participants create long-term emotional, behavioral and neuropsychological changes through its involvement of mindfulness and breath techniques.
2. Yoga teaches mindfulness meditation & self-regulation.
Ever heard the saying “you are not your thoughts?” Yoga helps students learn to pay attention to the present moment, or in other words, to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness encourages a non-judgmental stance towards thoughts and feelings so that individuals can look at these experiences objectively. When one observes thoughts and feelings without judgment, he or she can act on the information their body is giving them instead of react (self-regulation). These changes are not merely learned skills; several studies have demonstrated that mindfulness and meditation create actual long-term changes in the structure of the brain. Cool, huh?
3. Yoga teaches breathing techniques for relaxation.
Breath techniques utilized in many yoga practices can be life changing for individuals with anxiety and/or depression. Learning to focus on and control one’s breath enables individuals to literally calm their bodies down when under stress and even panic. Other breath techniques can also energize the body. Amy Weintraub outlines several easy-to-do breathing techniques for anxiety and depression in her book, Yoga for Depression.
Yoga series for stressed out teen girls: Stress-Busters Yoga, an 8-week yoga series for girls coping with stress, begins Sunday, September 7th in Northbrook, IL. (Limited spots still available). This unique group helps girls learn to listen to their body’s wisdom about how to live life with less stress and more confidence. Classes are 90-minutes long, including a group discussion at the end to allow girls to connect their experiences in class with their lives off of the mat. Visit www.inpowertherapy.com for more information.